President Donald Trump on Thursday said that a U.S. Navy ship shot down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz — the latest in a series of tense incidents between the U.S. and Tehran.
Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday that the USS Boxer — a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship — “took defensive action” against an Iranian drone that had “closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards” and ignored “multiple calls to stand down.”
The drone was “threatening safety of the ship and the ship’s crew” and “was immediately destroyed,” Trump said.
“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions against vessels operating in international waters,” the president said, adding that the U.S. “reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. “
The downing of the drone was just the latest incident to be reported near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway off Iran’s coast which separates the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. A third of the world’s seaborne oil shipments and 20 percent of oil traded worldwide pass out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces seized a foreign oil tanker after accusing 12 crew members of smuggling oil, state TV reported Thursday.
Earlier this month, several Iranian boats attempted to stop a British commercial vessel sailing through the strait, but the Iranian vessels were driven away by a British military ship, a senior U.S. defense official and a British government spokesperson said.
And last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. Iranian officials claimed they shot down the unmanned aircraft after it entered Iranian airspace, but the United States has disputed that and said the drone was in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
After the U.S. drone was shot down, Trump tweeted that the U.S. was “cocked & loaded” to retaliate with military strikes on Iranian targets, but called off the action after being told 150 people could die.
The U.S. has also blamed Iran for what the military said was a limpet mine attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in June. Iran has denied any involvement in the incident.
Pressure in the region has been building since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposed punishing sanctions on the country. The administration has also designated the Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization. Last month, Trump signed an executive order putting in place new sanctions.